Obesity Surgery

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 322–333 | Cite as

Risk of Suicide and Self-harm Is Increased After Bariatric Surgery—a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

  • Daniel Castaneda
  • Violeta B. Popov
  • Praneet Wander
  • Christopher C. ThompsonEmail author
Review Article



Bariatric surgery is endorsed by multiple societies as the most effective treatment for obesity. Psychosocial functioning has also been noted to improve for most patients after bariatric surgery. However, some studies have shown an increase in post-operative suicide risk. The aim of this study was to review the published literature and evaluate the association of bariatric surgery with suicide events and suicide/self-harm attempts in patients who have undergone weight loss surgery.


MEDLINE and Embase were searched from inception through January 2018 for retrospective or prospective studies reporting mortality outcomes and self-harm or suicide rates after bariatric procedures. The primary outcome was the pooled event rate with 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for suicide. Secondary outcomes were suicide/self-harm attempts after bariatric surgery compared to same population prior to surgery and to matched control subjects, with the respective calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI.


From 227 citations, 32 studies with 148,643 subjects were eligible for inclusion. The patients were predominantly females (76.9%). Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) was the most commonly performed procedure (58.9%). The post-bariatric suicide event rate was 2.7/1000 patients (95% CI 0.0019–0.0038), while the suicide/self-harm attempt event rate was 17/1000 patients (95% CI 0.01–0.03). The self-harm/suicide attempt risk was higher after bariatric surgery within the same population with OR of 1.9 (95% CI 1.23–2.95), and compared to matched control subjects, OR 3.8 (95% CI, 2.19–6.59).


Post-bariatric surgery patients had higher self-harm/suicide attempt risk compared to age-, sex-, and BMI-matched controls. Various pre- and post-surgical psychosocial, pharmacokinetic, physiologic, and medical factors may be involved.


Bariatric surgery Suicide Self-harm Outcomes Laparoscopic band Roux-en-y bypass Gastric bypass Sleeve gastrectomy Obesity 



Violeta B. Popov has received research support from Spatz and Apollo Endosurgery. Christopher C. Thompson has received research support and/or works as a consultant for Boston Scientific, Medtronic, USGI Medical, Olympus, Apollo Endosurgery, GI Windows, Aspire Bariatrics, Fractyl, Spatz, EndoTAGSS, and GI Dynamics.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Authors 1 and 3 do not have any compelling conflict of interest. Author 2 has received a grant and non-financial support from Apollo Endosurgery and research support from Spatz. Author 4 is a consultant for Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Fractyl, Olympus, USGI Medical, Apollo, and GI Dynamics; has received research support from Olympus; has received grants from USGI Medical, Apollo Endosurgery, Aspire Bariatrics, and Spatz; and has ownership interest in GI Windows and EndoTAGSS.

Informed Consent

No informed consent was required for this study since the information was obtained from published studies.

Supplementary material

11695_2018_3493_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 35 kb)
11695_2018_3493_MOESM2_ESM.docx (326 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 326 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Castaneda
    • 1
  • Violeta B. Popov
    • 2
  • Praneet Wander
    • 3
  • Christopher C. Thompson
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Digestive Disease InstituteCleveland Clinic FloridaWestonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterology, New York VA Harbor HealthcareNYU School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of GastroenterologyNorthshore Long Island Jewish HospitalNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Division of Gastroenterology, Harvard School of MedicineBrigham & Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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